The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Rep. Devin Nunes Seeks Court Order Entirely Suspending @LizNair and Other Accounts

But courts can't order suspension of an entire account even if they find that some posts were libelous.


Here's part of the demand from the Complaint in Nunes v. Twitter:

In order to protect Nunes's property interests and his reputation, Nunes requests the Court … to permanently enjoin and order Twitter to suspend @LizMair, @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow and to deactivate all hyperlinks to all tweets, retweets, replies and likes by @LizMair, @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow that contain false and defamatory statements about Nunes.

Most states now do allow injunctions requiring the removal of material proved to be libelous. But Nunes also seeks suspension of the entire accounts, which will keep their owners from posting even constitutionally protected speech, such as opinions or true statements. Such an overbroad injunction would be an unconstitutional prior restraint even if it were a response to speech about a private person; it is certainly unconstitutional as a remedy for speech (even libelous speech) about an elected official.